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State says video shows Hill holding murder weapon

Special to the Sunday News

July 13. 2013 11:13PM

HAVERHILL - A prosecutor told a judge Friday she has videotaped evidence of Rodney Hill holding the knife the state believes he used to stab and slash a California woman to death six months ago in the lobby of a Littleton hotel.

At a Grafton County Superior Court arraignment for Hill, 37, of West Danville, Vt., Judge Timothy J. Vaughan entered a not guilty plea to a murder charge on Hill's behalf in the Jan. 28 death of Catherine "Kitty" Houghton.

Houghton, 70, a multilingual veteran of the U.S. Foreign Service, had long-standing ties to New Hampshire's North Country and was there when Hill killed her in a random attack, according to prosecutors.

"You can see him with that knife in his hands; we've recovered the knife," Senior Assistant Attorney General Susan Morrell told Vaughan via telephone conference. Hill and his public defender, Marcie Hornick, listened from the defendant's table after the judge asked Morrell to lay out some of the details of her case.

Regarding the video, Morrell acknowledged the state did not have a witness who saw the murder. But during the 10-minute hearing, she released new information about the events that night at the Hampton Inn off Route 302, about a mile from downtown Littleton, including an account of what apparently was the mortally wounded Houghton's attempt to make it back to her third-floor room after the attack.

"She called the desk and indicated that she had been stabbed," Morrell said.

A police report of the investigation released in May said Houghton - despite severe blood loss - was still able to stand and answer questions when investigators arrived. She said she was attacked by someone she didn't know. The trustee of The White Mountain School in nearby Bethlehem told police she was feeling nauseated and dizzy before she was taken to Littleton Regional Hospital, where she died.

Hill, a married father of three children, told police that night he was the devil's son, and went after Houghton because he believed she was the devil in disguise and was out to harm him and his family.

He also told police he was on medication that had been approved for the treatment of a number of psychological disorders, including psychosis, according to court documents.

He had not been seen publicly since a brief Jan. 29 hearing in Littleton District Court, and has been held at the Grafton County jail since then.

As a group of seven or so of Hill's family members listened from the gallery in the North Haverhill courtroom, Vaughan continued Hill's confinement without bail.

Hornick, of the Public Defender's Office in Littleton, told the judge the issue of Hill's competency to stand trial has not yet been determined. Hornick declined comment after the hearing, adding she had advised Hill's family members not to talk to reporters.

A Grafton County grand jury last month handed up alternative indictments against Hill: a first-degree murder count, alleging he purposely caused Houghton's death by stabbing her, and a second-degree murder indictment, alleging recklessness.

Crime, law and justice Haverhill Littleton

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